Three-Self churches in Anhui, Henan, and Jilin provinces were leveled to the ground on government orders, bullying and injuring congregation members in the process.
by Lu An
Shortly after midnight on June 19, the Yingdong district government in Fuyang, a prefecture-level city in the eastern province of Anhui, dispatched about 200 personnel and two excavators to destroy a local Three-Self church. Church and believers’ personal belongings were buried in the ruins.
A congregation member told Bitter Winter that government personnel took the church’s 70-year-old deacon, her granddaughter, and another church member, who all lived in the church, to a local hospital, where they were put under strict surveillance. The deacon was so distraught that she couldn’t stop vomiting.
“I was woken up by loud noises little past 3 a.m. and saw that the roads leading to the church were blocked, preventing people from approaching it,” a resident who lives near the church recalled the events that night.
Another congregation member explained that the church had all required permits but was destroyed on the pretext of merging state-run places of worship—a popular excuse the Chinese authorities use to reduce the number of religious venues. The church director was not informed in advance about the government’s plans.
A Three-Self Church venue that had been closed down earlier in Songyao village in Dengfeng, a county-level city in the central province of Henan, was demolished the same day. Like in Fuyang, government personnel guarded all intersections, forbidding people from getting close to the demolition site. Some residents took photos, but officials ordered to delete them.
A source revealed that the authorities shut down the venue in 2018 after its congregation had been merged with another church, and the director was forced to donate the building to the village committee.
In Changchun, the capital of the northeastern province of Jilin, the Hongqi Christian Church, a state-approved Protestant church, was leveled to the ground by more than 100 government-sent personnel on June 8.
Amid the demolition, dozens of congregation members pulled up a banner reading “Protect legal interests of the church,” sang hymns outside the church, and chanted, “We resolutely protest against the demolition, as the church is our home.”